DMA Composition

Degree Type

  • Doctorate


  • In-Person


  • On-Campus
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The Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) in Composition at BU School of Music is a comprehensive professional program in the College of Fine Arts. Composers work to attain a personal compositional aesthetic and the techniques to express it through sound, as well as a broad knowledge of contemporary and historical compositional practices and a mastery of analytic techniques for tonal and post-tonal music. Students develop the skills necessary to navigate the professional world, and the Center for Music presents them with an array of opportunities to hear diverse musical styles.

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Curriculum requirements for the DMA in Composition can be found on the Academic Bulletin.

Opening Doors

Missy Mazzoli Speaks Out For Women In Classical Music

Missy Mazzoli began playing piano when she was seven.

“I knew instantly that I wanted to dedicate my life to music; it had such a profound effect on me,” says Mazzoli (CFA’02). “I started writing when I was 10. I made the decision to be a composer before I knew what that meant.”

Now, she is one of America’s preeminent composers—Time Out New York calls her “Brooklyn’s post-millennial Mozart.” Recently composer-in-residence with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Mazzoli is writing an opera based on George Saunders’ novel Lincoln in the Bardo for the Metropolitan Opera, and she rattles off new works that are performed or about to be performed by the National Symphony, the Cincinnati Symphony, and others. Musical America named her its 2022 Composer of the Year

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Missy Mazzoli (CFA’02) is one of America’s preeminent composers, and she’s fighting to improve the path for women in classical music. Photo by Marylene May

Program of Study

Students receive one-on-one instruction in composition. Required courses in music theory and music history as well as electives are offered, and the curriculum provides an excellent foundation for further studies. Students are encouraged to find their own voice in a collegial environment where all viewpoints are welcome.

A small department, the Composition & Theory program instills an open, collaborative, entrepreneurial sense both inside and outside the classroom.

Students join an international community of faculty and alumni who are music theorists, performers, conductors, and composers. This is an environment that encourages individual creative work and collaborative projects.

As part of a top-tier Music school in a major University, students have an expanse of opportunities including participating in Time’s Arrow, the new music ensemble, as both composer and performer, as well as collaborating with the College’s theatre and visual arts programs, such as in dramatic productions and installations. Boston’s vibrant music community offers countless possibilities to work with ensembles as well as in Lenox at Boston University Tanglewood Institute.

Annual award opportunities include the Composition Competition for Performance with Orchestra, the two Wainwright prizes, and Departmental Honors.

BU School of Music regularly uses three performance spaces: the Concert Hall, the Tsai Performance Center, and the School of Music Marshall Room. It also has state-of-the-art practice rooms.

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Composers’ Forum

At the weekly Composers’ Forum students have the opportunity to share their own music and interact with visiting composers who are presenting work. For more information please contact department chair Martin Amlin at

Center for New Music

Located at the heart of a thriving music school, the BU Center for New Music enhances the presence of cutting-edge music within the curriculum while encouraging awareness of new music within the BU arts community. To widen the conversation among the greater University, the center hosts lectures, demonstrations, and performances that are open to the public, providing a forum for broader interdisciplinary involvement.

Center for new music

Electronic and Computer Music Studio

The electronic and computer music studio contains state-of-the-art software and equipment.

Featured Faculty

Associate Professor Ketty Nez Awarded Fulbright to Teach in Hungary

Associate Professor of Music in Composition and Music Theory Ketty Nez had the experience of a lifetime teaching contemporary orchestration and musical analysis to advanced composers at the Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest, Hungary. And this was just one of many things that made Ketty’s Fulbright Award memorable. The Composer/Pianist, who has been teaching at BU since 2005, shares what her time was like in Hungary and what she’s brought back to the States to apply to her teachings.

read Q&A with Ketty Nez

Ketty Nez across from the Hungarian Parliament Building

Next Steps for Applicants

The best way to determine if BU is right for you is to explore our admission requirements, financial tools, and resources to determine if the program is the right match.

Reach out to Graduate Admissions at with any questions along the way or to request information. We are happy to discuss your educational interests and career goals.

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